Manchester United complete Ashley Young signing - ESPN Soccernet
So in a summer where teams seem to be focusing their attention (and money) on redundant players, we give you Ashley Young to Manchester United.
For those who have been reading the blog for a while, you know we've had a long-standing love affair with him back to his days at Watford when he was a Yahoo! fantasy star for very little money. We have enjoyed his time at Villa slightly less as his price has risen (along with his ego by all reports). The question we're faced with is, "Why did United want him?"
It seems to me that AY and Nani are almost identical players. Both play a hybrid left midfield/striker role. Both are fairly fleet of foot. Both serve the ball in well from both the run of play and set pieces. Both score more than their fair share of goals from decent distance. Neither is particularly inclined to track back and play defense. Neither is known to be particularly "coach-able" although both have improved steadily despite this criticism being leveled at them. Both are still on the upsides of their career - Nani is 24 and Young is 25.
So, why make the move for Young if you already have Nani? Here are a couple of thoughts:
- The Rules - If they're essentially the same player, why not go with the one that helps satisfy the "homegrown" rule.
- Money - They may have an offer on the table for Nani from a newly wealthy team on the continent of the PSG variety that will allow them to make a net profit on buying AY and selling Nani, who again, are essentially the same player.
- Looking Ahead - It may be clear to United that Nani's intention is to leave at some point in the future so rather than get themselves into a CRon/Cesc-type situation, they decided to make the switch for a very similar player who really wants to be at United while Nani still has lots of value and other teams don't have as much leverage.
- The Unknown - Despite his recent success, SAF has never really seemed sold on Nani to the extent of leaving him on the bench until the 70th minute in United's biggest match of the season. Maybe SAF has decided to cut bait before the news gets out that he doesn't value Nani much and that there's something that has happened quietly behind the scenes that has paved the way for his exit from Old Trafford.
- Depth - Perhaps last season's injury to Antonio Valencia has convinced SAF that he really needs three starting-caliber wide players for two spots and he finally has the money to do something about it after a few years of not having the money to spend.
In any event, the downside for us fantasy players is the potential that Nani, Young, and Valencia all stay and we are forced to figure out who will play from week-to-week. It would effectively crush the value of two very good premium midfielders. If Young arrives and Nani leaves then Young's value probably stays about the same. The real winner in all of this from a fantasy (and probably real life) standpoint is Albrighton who has to be seen as a no-doubt-about it first team choice regardless of what happens with Downing-to-Liverpool.